Manisha Sinha

James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History

Ph.D., Columbia

Areas of Specialty
The Long Nineteenth Century: Transnational histories of slavery, abolition, and feminism, the History and Legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction in United States History, Political History, African American History, Southern History.


Manisha Sinha is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut and a leading authority on the history of slavery and abolition and the Civil War and Reconstruction. She was born in India and received her Ph.D from Columbia University where her dissertation was nominated for the Bancroft prize. She is the author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina, which was named one of the ten best books on slavery in Politico in 2015 and recently featured in The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Her multiple award winning second monograph The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition was long listed for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. It was named Editor’s Choice in The New York Times Book Review, book of the week by Times Higher Education to coincide with its UK publication, and one of three great History books of 2016 in Bloomberg News. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2022. She is the Eighth recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award for 2021 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 2018, she was a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris, Diderot and was elected to the Society of American Historians. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the American Civil War Museum and of the Council of Advisors of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg, New York Public Library. She is co-editor of the Race in the Atlantic Series of the University of Georgia Press and on the editorial board of the journal, Slavery and Abolition. She taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for over twenty years, where she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed on faculty. Her latest book, The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: A New History of Reconstruction, 1860-1900, is forthcoming in 2023 from Liveright (Norton).

Professor Sinha has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, Time Magazine, CNN, The Boston Globe, Dissent, The Nation, Jacobin, and The Huffington Post and has been interviewed by the national and international press. She has been on National Public Radio, NBC, Democracy Now, BBC News, C-SPAN, Pacifica, Euro News, Canadian Television News, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, China Global News, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are, and was an advisor and on-screen expert for the Emmy nominated PBS documentary, The Abolitionists (2013), which is a part of the NEH funded Created Equal series. She has lectured all over the country and internationally in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Ireland, and New Zealand. The Chinese rights to The Slave’s Cause have recently been sold to Beijing Han Tang Zhi Dao Book Distribution Co., Ltd.

Selected Publications

The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016)

  • Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University
  • Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Best Book Prize, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic
  • James A. Rawley Award for the Best Book on Secession and the Sectional Crisis published in the last two years, Southern Historical Association
  • National Book Award for Non Fiction, Long List
  • Honorable Mention in the U.S. History category for the American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE)

Co-authored, The Abolitionist Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012)

Co-edited, Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)

Co-edited, African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the African Slave Trade to the Twenty First Century Vol. I To 1877 & Vol. II From 1865 to the Present (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004) 

The Counterrevolution of Slavery:  Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

  • Finalist, Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Finalist, George C. Rogers Award for Best Book on South Carolina History

Selected Articles, Essays, and Reviews

The Perils of Public Engagement,” Modern American History, July 2022.

Foreward, Fugitive Movements: Commemorating the Denmark Vesey Affair and Black Radical Antislavery in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2022). 

“The Case for a Third Reconstruction,” The New York Review of Books, February 3, 2021.

“What this 18th Century Poet Reveals about Amanda Gorman’s Success,” CNN February 1, 2021.

“Of Scientific Racists and Black Abolitionists: The Forgotten Debate over Slavery and Race,” in To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealey Daguerreotypes eds. Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers, Deborah Willis (Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum Press and Aperture, 2020): 235-258.

”The 2020 Election Surpasses all Before It, Except One,” CNN, October 28, 2020.

“The Oligarch’s Revenge: The Making of the Modern Right,” The Nation October 6, 2020.

“From Plantation to Jail: Exploring the Connection between Slavery and Black Mass Incarceration,” Times Literary Supplement October 2, 2020.

“Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me,” The New York Times, August 12, 2020.

“Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor,” The New York Times, November 29, 2019.

“The Long History of American Slavery Reparations,” The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2019.

“The New Fugitive Slave Laws,” The New York Review of Books July 17, 2019.

“The Mobile Resistance: Rumor and Revolution in Julius Scott’s Black Atlantic,” The Nation May 20, 2019.

“The Self-Made Man,” (New York, 2018), The Times Literary Supplement, March 22, 2019.

“The Problem of Abolition in the Age of Capitalism,” American Historical Review 124 (February 2019): 144-163.

Afterword: “The History and Legacy of Jacksonian Democracy,” Journal of the Early Republic 39 (Spring 2019): 145-8. 

“First as Farce, and Then as Tragedy,” Jacobin, December 4, 2018.

Frederick Douglass and Fugitivity,” Black Perspectives, November 26, 2018

“How Confederate History Looks in the Shadow of Charlottesville,” CNN, August 13, 2018.

“What Happened the Last Time a President Chose America’s Enemies over Its Friends,” CNN, July 27, 2018.

Guest Editor and Introduction, Special Issue on Abolition, Journal of the Civil War Era 8 (June 2018): 187-189. 

“Today’s Eerie Echoes of the Civil War,” The New York Review of Books, March 6, 2018.

“Making Andrew Jackson Great Again?” History News Network, January 7, 2018.

Preface, Undoing Slavery: American Abolitionism in Transnational Perspective, 1776-1865 eds. Michael Roy, Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, & Claire Parfait (Paris: Editions Rue d’Ulm, 2018).

“History and Its Discontents,” in The Future of History: Historians, Historical Organizations and the Prospects for the Field edited by Conrad Edick Wright and Kate Viens (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017): 79-88.

“Reviving the Black Radical Tradition,” in Race Capitalism Justice Forum 1 Boston Review (Boston 2017): 66-71.

“Was Abraham Lincoln an Incorrigible Racist?” The Washington Post July 14, 2017.

“Alabama Makes a Noble Historical Turn, As It has Many Times in Its History,” New York Daily News, December 14, 2017.

“We Don’t Think Michelle Jones Can Change Because We See Black Moms as Monsters,” The Washington Post, September 21, 2017.

“What those Monuments Stand For,” New York Daily News, August 20, 2017.

“Heather Heyer is Part of a Long Tradition of White Anti-Racist Activists,” The Washington Post, August 16, 2017.

“Civil War Revisionism Still Shames America,” New York Daily News, May 4, 2017.

“In the ‘Price of the Pound of Their Flesh,’ Black Bodies Matter,” The Boston Globe February 10, 2017.

“Silencing Elizabeth Warren: Gag Rules Have a Long, Dark History,” CNN, February 9, 2017.

“It Feels like the Fall of Reconstruction,” The Huffington Post, November 22, 2016.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Competing Political Loyalties: Union, Constitution, and Antislavery,” in Nicholas Buccola ed., Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2016): 164-191.

“The Year of the American Woman?” The Huffington Post, September 13, 2016.

“US Law has Long Seen People of African Descent as Fugitives,” Aeon, August 19, 2016.

“Clinton-Kaine Echoes History: A New Chapter in Epic NY-Virginia Relationship,” New York Daily News, August 11, 2016.

“The United States of Trumpistan?” The Huffington Post, May 27, 2016.

The Other Francis Ellen Watkins Harper,” commonplace 16 (Spring 2016)

“Senator Sanders’ Campaign is as American as Apple Pie,” The Huffington Post, January 29, 2016.

“Did He Die an Abolitionist? The Evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s Antislavery,” American Political Thought 4 (Summer 2015): 439-454.

“The Long and Proud History of Charleston’s AME Church,” The Huffington Post June 19, 2015.
Reprinted in the Charleston Syllabus (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016): 69-70.

“The Untold History Beneath ’12 Years’”: NYC’s Sordid History,” New York Daily News, March 2, 2014.

Memory as History, Memory as Activism: The Forgotten Abolitionist Struggle after the Civil War,” commonplace 14 (Winter 2014) 

“The Complicated Histories of Emancipation: State of the Field at 150,” Reviews in American History 41 (December 2013): 665-671. 

Architects of Their Own Liberation: African Americans, Emancipation and the Civil War,” OAH Magazine of History 27 (April 2013): 1-6.

*“Historians’ Forum: The Emancipation Proclamation,” Civil War History 59 (March 2013): 7-31. 

“The Forgotten Emancipationists,” The New York Times, February 24, 2013.

“The Strange Victory of the Palmetto State” in Ted Widmer with Clay Risen & George Kalogerakis eds., The New York Times Disunion: Modern Historians Revisit and Reconsider the Civil War from Lincoln’s Election to the Emancipation Proclamation (New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2013): 60-63 

“Did the Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?” in The Abolitionist Imagination (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012): 81-108.

“Is the Modern GOP a “Relic of Barbarism?” History News Network, October 1, 2012.

“James W.C. Pennington and Transatlantic Abolitionism,” Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Annual Report 2010-2011 (Heidelberg, Germany: Universitatsverlag, 2011): 160-175.

“The Strange Victory of the Palmetto State,” The New York Times, February 5, 2011.

“Making Sense of John Brown’s Raid,” in Edward Ayers and Carolyn R. Martin eds., America on the Eve of the Civil War: A Virginia Sesquicentennial Conference (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010): 69-89, 112-120.

“South Carolina’s Secession at 150,” The Huffington Post, December 20, 2010.

“The Republican Punking of America,” The Huffington Post, August 25, 2009.

“The Grand Old Party of Secession,” The Huffington Post, May 8, 2009.

“We are all Americans in the Age of Obama,” The Huffington Post, January 28, 2009.

“Allies for Emancipation?: Lincoln and Black Abolitionists,” in Eric Foner ed., Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008): 167-196.

“Will Obama be FDR to McCain’s Hoover?” History News Network, November 3, 2008.

“Sarah Palin and the Betrayal of American Women,” The Huffington Post, September18, 2008.

“Is Obama Lincoln to Hillary’s Seward?” The Huffington Post, April 29, 2008.

“An Alternative Tradition of Radicalism: African American Abolitionists and the Metaphor of Revolution, 1775-1865” in Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007): 9-30

“To ‘Cast Just Obliquy’ on Oppressors: Black Radicalism in the Age of Revolution” William and Mary Quarterly LXIV (January 2007): 149-160.

“Coming of Age: The Historiography of Black Abolitionism,” in Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer eds, Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (New York: New Press, 2006): 23-38.

“Black Abolitionism: The Assault on Southern Slavery and the Struggle for Racial Equality,” in Ira Berlin and Leslie Harris eds., Slavery in New York (New York: New Press, 2005): 239-262.

“Eugene D. Genovese: The Mind of a Marxist Conservative,” Radical History Review 88 (Winter 2004): 4-29.

“The Caning of Charles Sumner: Slavery, Race and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War,” Journal of the Early Republic 23 (Summer 2003): 233-262.

“Revolution or Counterrevolution? The Political Ideology of Secession in Antebellum South Carolina,” Civil War History XLVI (September 2000): 205-226.

“Judicial Nullification: The South Carolina Led Southern Movement to Reopen the African Slave Trade in the 1850s” in Maria Diedrich, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Carl Pedersen eds., Black Imagination and the Middle Passage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 127-143.

“Louisa Susanna McCord: Spokeswoman of the Master Class in Antebellum South Carolina,” in Susan Ostrov Weisser and Jennifer Fleischner eds., Feminist Nightmares Women at Odds: Feminism and the Problem of Sisterhood (New York: New York University Press, 1994): 62-87.

Selected Awards and Fellowships
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2022-2023
Elected to Council, American Antiquarian Society, 2021-
Historian Advisory Council, American Civil War Museum, 2021-
Elected to Board of Trustees, Connecticut Historical Society, 2021-
Scholarly Advisory Board, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
James W.C. Pennington Award, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2021
Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester 2020-2021
Mellon-Schlesinger Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2019-2020
Elected Member, Society of American Historians, 2018-
Board Member, Society of Civil War Historians, 2018-2022 
Kidger Award for excellence in teaching, research and writing, and service to the profession, New England History Teachers’ Association, 2018
Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, March 9, 2017
Elected Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017-
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016-2107
Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award in Recognition of Outstanding Graduate Teaching and Advising, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2016
Exceptional Merit Award, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2013
Chancellor’s Medal and Distinguished Faculty Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2011
Howard Foundation Fellowship, Brown University, 2009-2010
Faculty Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 2007-2008
Elected Member, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2006-2021
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2004-2005
Appointed to Distinguished Lecture Series, Organization of American Historians, 2003-
Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1999
Rockefeller Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1994-95
Post-Doctoral Fellowship, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University, 1993-94
Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Columbia University, 1992-93

Manisha Sinha, professor of history
Contact Information
Draper Research Assistant: 860-486-2752
Mailing Address241 Glenbrook Road, U-4103, Storrs CT 06269
Office LocationWood Hall, Rm 219
CampusCampus: Storrs
Office HoursFall 2022: On Leave
LinkMore of Dr. Sinha's Work